I have been on an artistic exchange in the Catalan village of Vilassar de Dalt as part of the Revela-t analogue photo festival with nine other artists and it was great. Well the first night when we almost had to walk 10km back to hostel wasn’t a high point and if I am honest sitting through a movie in Catalan subtitled in Spanish before that was also not a high point and I won’t bore you with the details of the full English tribute breakfast I had for dinner which to be honest was definitely not a high point, but all in all with the series of challenges the residency threw up, plus getting to meet and work with some totally wonderful people from places as far away as Bolivia, Colombia, France, the Netherlands, Spain and, er, Barcelona (via Argentina) was pretty damn good.
The village of Villassar de Dalt had been a cloth mill town much like those you find along the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire in Lancashire even including tied houses for the workforce. It suffered the same fate and the factories that had closed one by one until the last had become a pale wraith of itself where crude and smutty messages were screen printed on t-shirts shipped in from who knows where for sale to the heirs of the English working classes on their two weeks of sun sand and sin in Mallorca. Eventually that too collapsed and they left in what appears to have been some sort of a hurry leaving an empty building with a remarkable cache of abandoned silk screens, empty barrels of inks and a fair amount of book keeping scattered across the top floor.
I had intended to do one project but due to some logistic flim flam I ended up deciding to do something else entirely in a disused factory. It was sound but derelict with crusty wads of dust everywhere and birds flying about in the frequently windowless rooms. On the ground floor was a massive exhibition of some really good contemporary analogue photography part of a huge group of exhibitions spread across the entire village. Above was two further floors of the kind of picturesque decrepitude that would cause a hipster to cash in their trust fund and start a creativity hub.
I cannot describe the pure pleasure of being told here is it, knock yourself out. The other photographers did things with wet plate and dry plate and collodion, handmade pinhole with instant film, Lieca and Hasselblad. I did stuff with string and cloth and rubber bands and a holga pinhole camera. I’m like that.
This is what the factory looked like
And this is some of what I did. But if you want to see the results, you are going to have to wait a while because this stuff is going to take a while.
The other artists on the exchange were: